Dive Site - South Channel Fort
|Dive Site - South Channel Fort|
|Dive Location:||City / Island:|
|South Channel Fort||Port Phillip Bay, VIC|
|Australia||12 m||Open Water|
|38° 18.407′ S||144° 48.022′ E||Google Map||WGS84|
|2 dives at this location:|
|46 | 217|
Depth: slopes down to 12 metres.
The South Channel Fort is a man made island of about 0.7 ha, in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria approximately 6 km north-east of Sorrento. Construction work began in 1878 with the laying of about 14,000 bluestone rocks. It was originally constructed to as a fort with gun emplacements, to guard the southern channel of the bay and the Port of Melbourne from a perceived threat of the Russian invasion during the Gold rush of the 1880s. As such it was a part of a bigger strategic defence initiative which included Port Nepean and Queenscliff in a triangle of defence.
The Fort was used during the 1950s-1980s for the storage of explosives for blasting the rocks in The Rip and was added to the Mornington Peninsula National Park in 1995. It is now listed on the Register of the National Estate in recognition of the role the island plays as a breeding site for the White-Faced Storm-petrel and for its military and historical significance. It is also classified by the National Trust.
The South Channel Fort is a great dive as there is always a side sheltered from the currents that race through the bay. The island is situated in otherwise barren sand flat and has attracted a vast amount of marine life to the area. The rocky slopes of the Fort go down to around 12 metres.
The waters are littered with large granite boulders, forming caves and hideaways, caverns, tunnels and the like which make it a photographers dream come true. On the western side of the fort is a small landing jetty, where the water drops down to about 12 metres to a sandy uninteresting bottom. The best diving is certainly in amongst the sea grass or rocky reef between this maximum depth and the western shore line of the Fort.
If time permits between tides, the Fort can be circumnavigated at about 5 metres. On the Eastern edge are several large pylons which have collapsed. These were something to do with the second world war and the protective nets that were drawn across the bays channel.
There is also plenty to see on around the pylons of the jetty. Best to dive the jetty and western side on the ebb tide.
Location GPS coordinates from John Lawler. Accuracy unknown.